Her Majesty the Queen Halaevalu Mata'aho, the Queen Mother honored the occasion, accompanied by other members of the Royal Family, the Tongan Prime Minister, Lord Tu'ivakano as well as other foreign dignitaries from the diplomatic corps, including Their Excellencies, Mr. Yasuo Takase of Japan, Dr. Jonathan Austin of New Zealand and Mr. Wang Donghua of the People's Republic of China.
Members of His Majesty's Cabinet were among the invited distinguished guests invited, including the Deputy Prime Minister, Hon. Samiu Kuita Vaipulu, Agriculture & Forestry Minister, Lord Vaea, Lands & Survey & Environment Minister, Lord Ma'afu and the Minister for Training, Youth & Sports Minister, Hon. Fe'ao Vakata.
Despite the humid weather conditions, the evening was spared torrential rains and was received with warm atmospheres for Parliamentarians and Honorary Consuls who joined both resident and visiting members of the Australian communities and other invited guests in reflections of good relations enjoyed by Tonga and Australia.
Since the opening of the first resident Australian High Commission office in Nuku'alofa in the 1980s, Tonga has become an important regional partner with strong migration links to Australia.
The Kingdom has shared many experiences and good bilateral ties with Australia through notable donor assistance programs under the AustAID program and other diplomatic relations.
Tonga has a resident mission office in Canberra, Australia where HRH Crown Prince Tupouto'a-Lavaka serves as Tonga's High Commissioner to Australia.
Australia Day commemorates the beginning of settlement in Australia, when Governor Arthur Phillip landed at Sydney Cove on 26 January 1788. In 1838, the fiftieth anniversary of the landing, it was proclaimed a public holiday. Previous to that, as early as 1817 or 1818, there were celebrations in Sydney. In 1931 the name Australia Day was adopted nationally (it had been known as Anniversary Day and Foundation Day).
The tradition of having Australia Day as a national holiday on 26 January is a recent one. Not until 1935 did all the Australian states and territories use that name to mark that date. Not until 1994 did they begin to celebrate Australia Day consistently as a public holiday on that date.
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Issued by the: Ministry of Information and Communications, Nuku'alofa, 2012.